The Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) used the “scrapped” marks moderation policy (MMP) for the class 10 results declared this year, inflating the overall pass percentage by more than 9 per cent, an RTI reply has revealed.
The application under the Right to Information Act had been filed by Advocate HC Arora of Punjab and Haryana High Court.
Announcing the results earlier this year, PSEB had claimed that 3.17 lakh regular students had appeared for class 10 exams of which 2.71 lakh (85.56 per cent ) had passed. The RTI reply (copy with The Indian Express) says that the pass percentage was 76.49 per cent, which was revised to 85.56 per cent for class 10 (2018-19) after applying the moderation policy.
The board also admits that a similar formula was applied in 2017-18 results too where overall class 10 result was revised from 46.29 per cent to 62.10 per cent (after moderation) for regular students — a hike of 15.81 per cent. This indicates that more than half of the regular students had actually failed but got the passing marks courtesy the extra marks through the moderation policy.
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The overall pass percentage declared in 2017-18 by the board was 59.47 per cent (including open category students).
The RTI reply has come as a shocker as in 2017, PSEB had claimed that it has “scrapped” the controversial marks modulation policy under which grace marks are given to students on “borderline”.
In class 12 results for 2017-18 also, board chairman Manohar Kant Kalohia admitted that up to five grace marks were given to “students who were on borderline” and claimed that the “policy was used judiciously”.
The Delhi High Court, in May 2017, had ordered the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to continue with the MMP. Before that in April 2017, the CBSE and 32 state boards, including that of Punjab, had reached a consensus to scrap the policy. However, after Delhi High Court order, CBSE declared its 2017 results using the moderation policy. Punjab results (without the grace marks) had been declared by the time orders came.
Later, in October 2017, Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) issued an “advisory” for state boards and the CBSE that there should be no “spiking or inflation” of marks for class 10 and 12 in order to improve overall results. However, marks moderation policy for students who were on “borderline” was allowed to continue with a condition that boards must declare it on their websites whenever used. PSEB, however, never declared this on its website.
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PSEB was also at the center of controversy when it doled out 25-30 grace marks in 2015-16 and pass percentage for class 12 was increased from 54 per cent to 76.77 per cent.
However, in 2016-17, former education minister Aruna Chaudhary claimed that “not a single grace mark” was given and results were declared without using the MMP.
But again in 2017-18 and 2018-19, PSEB used the moderation policy to inflate class X results, indicates the RTI.
“This is a big fraud going on with people as well as the students who are being kept in a misconception about their own ability. Also, when almost all states have scrapped it, how can Punjab still use it defying MHRD guidelines? Even without moderation, 2019 results were way better than 2018, then why was this used,” asked Arora.
Sources in the PSEB told The Indian Express that MMP was used on the “directions of the state education department” which wanted the board “to improve the results”.
“There was an intervention by state education department, which wasn’t happy with the original results and wanted an improvement in numbers,” said a senior PSEB official.
While PSEB chairman Manohar Kant Kalohia did not respond to calls and messages, board secretary-cum-state Director General of School Education (DGSE) Mohammad Tayyab said, “Maybe some grace marks were given to the students but I am unaware of moderation policy being used to pass all students on borderline. Only chairman can reply to this as
I was busy in Lok Sabha polls then.”